Big diamonds are big business

© Written by Rachael Taylor for The Financial Times

“I could show you my email,” volunteers William Lamb, the chief executive of Lucara Diamond. “I get three offers a week on that stone. I’d love to say we’re going to sell it next week, but we have to find the right buyer.”

Mr Lamb is referring to the Lesedi La Rona — at 1,109ct, the second-largest gem-quality rough diamond ever discovered. Lucara unearthed it, and its attempted sale at Sotheby’s in June 2016 was meant to represent a peak in the market for enormous stones: the first time one had been sold in public. Instead, when bidding stalled at $61m, falling short of an undisclosed reserve — Sotheby’s presale estimate was in excess of $70m — it exposed the risk and the difficulties of the market for outsize gems.

Mr Lamb says there are several reasons he has not yet sold the stone. No actionable offer has yet met his financial expectations — something he attributes to a lack of similar stones setting price precedents. The only gem-quality rough diamond larger was the 3,106.75ct Cullinan Diamond found in 1905, and that was given to Edward VII…

This story was originally published in the March 23, 2017 edition of The Financial Times. Read the full story here.

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